Reverse Engineering Challenge Starts Off Simple


We love seeing hard-core firmware reverse engineering projects, but the number of hackers who can pull those off is relatively small. It’s possible to grow the ranks of the hacker elite though. A hackerspace is a great place to have a little challenge like this one. [Nicolas Oberli] put together a capture the flag game that requires the contestants to reverse engineer Teensy 3.0 firmware.

He developed this piece of hardware for the Insomni’hack 2013 event. It uses the Teensy 3.0 capacitive touch capabilities to form a nine-digit keypad with a character LCD screen for feedback. When the correct code is entered the screen will display instructions on how to retrieve the ‘flag’.

To the right you can see the disassembly of the .elf file generated by the Arduino IDE. This is what [Nicolas] gave to the contestants, which gets them past the barrier of figuring out how to dump the code from the chip itself. But it does get them thinking in assembly and eventually leads to figuring out what the secret code is for the device. This may be just enough of a shove in the right direction that one needs to get elbow deep into picking apart embedded hardware as a hobby.

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Meet The Teensy 3.0

[Paul Stoffregen], the brains behind the popular and very capable Arduino-compatible Teensy development board, has offered his contribution to the explosion of ARM-powered boards with the Teensy 3.0.

The original Teensy is an AVR-based development board that goes far beyond the official Arduino offerings. The new and improved Teensy 3.0 improves upon an already wonderful platform with a 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller running at 48 MHz. There’s also a lot of pins available for whatever project you have in mind: the Teensy 3.0 supports 14 analog inputs, 10 PWM outputs, a USB host mode, and an I2S audio interface that will be very useful when accessing the microcontroller’s DSP functions.

There are a couple neat features on the Teensy 3.0 [Paul] somehow managed to work in. In addition to supporting a real-time clock, there are also a few extra IO pins in the middle of the board. [Paul] says the extra pins are due to Kinetis not releasing a 48 pin version of the microcontroller in time for production. It may not be what [Paul] originally had in mind, but we’ll take the upgraded board just the same.

Of course the Teensy 3.0 will be compatible with the Teensyduino Arduino IDE add-on, so if you’d like to run your Arduino sketches on a very powerful piece of hardware, this will be the board to use.